Mike Kueber's Blog

August 4, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies #79 – Orange is the New Black and Everybody’s All-American

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 7:27 pm
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Orange is the New Black is the latest series (13 episodes) to be presented by Netflix.  Although it has received outstanding reviews, I was tardy checking it out because I loved the recently-viewed, syndicated Felicity series (1998-2002) so much that I decided to watch all 84 of its episodes a second time.  When I finally got around to watching Orange, I was unable to get excited by it.  The leading characters are lame and the supporting cast of characters are eccentric.  And the setting – women in prison – doesn’t interest me.  By contrast, I was fascinated recently by a book about men in prison – Law Man.  After four episodes of Orange, I called it quits.

Because I so much enjoyed watching the TV show Friday Night Lights (FNL) about young men and their glory days, a friend suggested that I would certainly enjoy the 1988 movie, Everybody’s All-American.  He was right.

While FNL was about a high school football hero in west Texas, Everybody’s All-American was about a college football hero (Dennis Quaid as “the Grey Ghost” Gavin Grey) in Louisiana who went on to a successful pro career before finally having to face the real world.  Gavin seems like a level-headed guy who didn’t take his athletic success too seriously, but gradually his inability to do anything productive starts eating at him, especially when his adoring public continues to insist that he play the role of football All-American.

Grey’s journey into the real world is both helped and hurt by his wife Jessica Lange.  It is helped because Jessica is a loving, considerate, hard-working wife; it is hurt because Jessica is a homecoming queen who had married into athletic royalty.

The third important person in this drama is Gavin’s young nephew played by Timothy Hutton.  Initially, he is a wide-eyed observer, but gradually he becomes important to Lange as someone she can talk to.  Imagine the contrast between Everybody’s All-American and a sensitive kid who eventually gets a doctorate and becomes a college professor.

The Rotten Tomato scores were a complete surprise – 30% by the critics and 46% by the audience.  I loved the movie, especially the ending, which was much more upbeat the Frank Deford’s novel upon which it was based.  The movie works because all three of the principal characters are endearing and sympathetic, especially Gavin.  I give it three and a half stars out of four.

 

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July 11, 2013

Saturday Night at the Moview #76 – Felicity (TV series, Seasons 2-4)

Filed under: Movie reviews,Uncategorized — Mike Kueber @ 5:35 pm
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I obviously haven’t been posting much in my blog, and this post reveals why.  On July 6, I posted about the first season of Felicity, the WB series in 1998.  Today, one week later, I am posting about the second, third, and fourth seasons (1999-2002).  That means I watched more than 60 episodes in a week, which has to qualify for serious binge viewing.

What prompted my binge?  My posting on Season One concluded with me giving the show three and a half stars, and the succeeding seasons kept getting better.  The characters (college kids trying to figure out life) and setting (Manhattan) are simply irresistible.

While searching the internet for trivia on the show, I stumbled across a website that reviewed the series a few years ago.  Although the website provided a great review, it criticized two things about the show that I thought were actually its strongest points.  The following was my self-explanatory response to the review:

  • Great review.  I just finished binging on all four seasons on Netflix and loved it.  My only quibble is with your two major criticisms – (1) Felicity’s waffling between Ben and Noel, and (2) the time travel.  I don’t think there was any waffling after Season One.  Although I had no idea who Felicity would go with that first summer, when she chose Ben, the die was forever cast.  Although Felicity naturally had a case of buyer’s remorse in the following Seasons, I thought it was genius for the writers to indulge that remorse by showing Felicity and the viewers through Its a Wonderful Life time travel that Ben for her was inevitable.  Obviously, I’m Team Ben, too.”

Four stars out of four.

July 6, 2013

Saturday Night at the Movies #75 – Felicity (TV series Season One)

Filed under: Movie reviews — Mike Kueber @ 12:10 am
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This is a lot of talk in the media about people engaging in binge viewing of TV series on Netflix, and I recently have partaken of eight seasons of “24,” five seasons of Friday Night Lights,” and lastly a single season of “Revenge.”  After finishing “Revenge” last week, I concluded that this binge viewing was great and went looking for another TV series.

One that kept popping up on various lists was “Felicity.”  The Netflix description reads, “In this Emmy Award winner, Felicity Porter abandons her med school plans to follow her heart — and her crush, Ben — to a different college. Once there, she falls for another guy, establishing one of television’s most intriguing love triangles.”  Although the movie is characterized as a teen drama, I was drawn to it because its setting is a college in Manhattan.  I have been fascinated by Manhattan ever since college, and would have gone to law school there if NYU or Columbia Law had accepted me.

I decided to give it a try, and within a couple of episodes I was hooked.  Felicity is played by Keri Russell and although she is adorable, she is almost too perfect, a little too earnest and eager to please.  Four other excellent characters complete the ensemble.  “Felicity” might sound like a college version of “Friends,” but “Felicity” is a drama and the characters, at least in the first season, are heavily incestuous.  It might also sound like variation of “Friday Night Lights,” but FNL focused heavily on parenting while “Felicity” allows its young adults to work their way through problems with minimal parental involvement.

Although the storylines aren’t as well-developed as those on “24” or “FNL,” I love watching this teen drama because it examines in a serious way a series of relationship issues that kids coming of age must confront.  If I had been lucky enough to live in Manhattan, I would have loved to experience the way these kids are.

And I’m hopeful that the three remaining college years are as satisfying.

I give the TV show three and a half stars out of four.